Couscous and Cucumber Salad

This is a very quick, easy, and customizable dish. I found the recipe via the NYT, which includes mint. Even without the mint, it’s very refreshing, with a smooth, neutral, and delicate flavor. A really lovely lunch or a welcome side dish that goes with pretty much anything. couscous

•  1/2 cup Pearl Couscous
• 1 Cucumber
• 1 large tomato, or lots of tiny ones
• 2 T red onion, diced
• 1 cup water
• 1/4 cup lemon juice
• 1 – 2 T olive oil
• About 5 sprigs parsley
• salt & pepper

1. Lightly toast couscous in olive oil [enough to coat] over medium high heat, about 5 minutes.

2. Add 1 cup water and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat, cover, and simmer until 10 minutes, just until tender.

3. Remove from heat, strain if necessary, and pour couscous in large bowl.

4. Chop cucumber, tomatoes, and onion. Add to couscous, along with lemon juice, herbs, and the rest of olive oil. Toss, let breathe, and serve.

Brownies

This recipe is from Sally’s Baking Addiction and it makes extremely delicious brownies.

One of my nutritional goals is to make as much as possible at home, and to buy as little in boxes as possible. Instead, I have adapted to keeping a pantry with basic ingredients that can combine to make anything. Instead of 8 boxes for different purposes, I have one bag of flour and 1 container of salt. Baking soda. Sugar. Vanilla. Elemental ingredients are much more versatile than pre-made mixes for specific things-they can be utilized for anything.

Baking is interesting because it feels much more like a chemistry experiment than regular cooking. An improvisational style isn’t welcome with baked goods unless you’ve already mastered ratios, and have a full & complete understanding of what exactly happens to each ingredient when combined. If you mix things in a different order, you will get a different result. The eggs need to be whipped a certain way, flour must not be over-mixed, and sugar is considered a liquid ingredient. It’s quite exciting to end up with a perfectly textured, delicious result, but things can go awry all too easily. The important thing to remember when baking is that, as a beginner, you are more of a chemist than an artist. The flair and flourishes come later.

These brownies are the first I tried to make on my own and they are everything a brownie should be. Easy to make and extremely easy to eat. I found the recipe looking for a new raspberry dessert recipe, and found Sally’s Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies. Those are probably the greatest things on the planet, but I’ve only worked with plain chocolate thus far…

brownies

Brownies
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
• 6 – 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
• 1 and 1/4 cups sugar
• 3 eggs
• 1 tsp vanilla
• 3/4 cup flour
• 1/4 tsp salt
• Optional: 1 tsp fresh coffee grounds
• Optional: walnuts

1. Chop chocolate. It is okay to cut semi-sweet chocolate with unsweetened chocolate. This goes against the chemistry thoughts earlier, but a couple ounces of unsweetened chocolate with a 4 ounce package of semi-sweet chocolate comes out okay. I tossed in about an extra tablespoon of sugar for this.
2. Add to bain-marie with butter, mixing constantly over medium heat until liquified. Allow to cool to room temperature.
3. Stir sugar into butter & chocolate mixture until combined.
4. Add eggs one at a time, whisking after each addition
5. Fold in flour and salt. If you are adding coffee, walnuts, or whatever other tasty objects you have in mind, sprinkle into mix at this step.
6. Butter and flour a square baking dish. Pour batter in and bake for 35 – 45 minutes, depending on your oven. If they are still not finished but seem to be getting dry around the edges, cover with foil until finished.

Jalapeño Corn Dip

This tastes suspiciously, surprisingly similar to the dip make with Velveeta and Ro-tel. Ro-tel would probably be quite good here, though it would create more of a salsa than a dip. Either way, this is SO good and is a nice way to avoid plastic cheese without sacrificing the general spirit of party food.

jalapeno dip
• 1 can creamed corn
• 2 Jalapeño peppers, minced
• 2 T minced onion
• 1/4 can black beans
• 1/2 c cheese (cheddar, monterey jack, Italian mix)
• 1 T sour cream

1. Over low heat, combine ingredients. Mix until warm, adding more of whichever ingredients you’d like to add. More jalapeños for spice, more cheese if you’re dangerous that way–whatever is most delicious :)
2. Serve with homemade corn tortilla chips* and a smorgasboard of Tex-Mex creations

*(Just cut a corn tortilla and fry in vegetable oil for a few seconds. Dry on a paper towel, then add sea salt. Wheat flour tortillas are good too, for a smoother flavor)

Falafel Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce

The garbanzo patties are so savory & delicious they can be eaten on their own, alongside a nice rice dish, or a bright vegetable. They pair nicely with hot flavors, like chili/Sriracha, and cream or yogurt sauces. For a gyro, fill a pita with fresh tomato, onion, lettuce, tzatziki, and falafel.

falafel

• 2 cups canned, boiled garbanzo beans, or 1 can, drained
• 1 carrot, grated or minced
• 1 onion, diced
• 2 large garlic cloves, smashed and minced
• 4 – 6 T garbanzo bean flour
• 1/2 tsp each thyme, coriander, cumin
• 1 tsp paprika
• dash pepper, salt

1. Mince or dice vegetables and add to food processor with beans. Add about a teaspoon of water if your device requires liquid.
2. Blend to desired consistency. Bigger pieces of everything will allow you to use less flour, so a mealy mix is actually really good. The blending process is just to crush the beans and to combine the mix, not to liquify. If you find your batter won’t form or stay together in a firm way, add more flour, cornstarch, or similar thickener depending on your budget. (garbanzo bean flour is more expensive than standard flour)
3. Add flour and spices, mix, and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.
4. Heat a little over an inch of your chosen frying oil, preferably vegetable or sunflower. Form dough into rough golf-ball shape and drop in oil. Or, flatten to make patties if that is preferable. Fry on one side a couple minutes, until fully brown. Flip once to brown, and turn on sides for full coverage.

Tzatziki Sauce
• 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
• 1/3 cucumber
• 1 lemon
• thyme
• dill
• cumin, coriander, paprika, salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine ingredients, adding more or less of whatever you like most or least. You can cut the cucumber to whatever consistency you desire-it can be minced, thrown into a food processor, grated, etc.

Tiramisu

tiramisu

 

Cake:

• 1 cup flour
• 1 cup sugar
• 2 eggs
• 1/2 cup (almond) milk
• 2 T butter
• 1 tsp baking powder

1. Whisk(by hand or with electric mixer) eggs for 3 or 4 minutes until they are thick. Gradually add sugar, beating until light.

2. Add flour and baking powder all at once and mix just until combined.

3. Heat milk and butter over medium heat until butter melts.

4. Add to batter and whisk until totally combined and creamy.

5. Pour into greased and floured pan. I used a square pan, but round, rectangular, cupcake, small rectangular–any pan can be used depending on what you’re envisioning as your end result. Bake 20 – 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven.


Syrup:

• 1 cup strong coffee or espresso
• 2 – 3 T rum or Kahlua
• 1 T sugar

1. When coffee is cool, mix.

Filling:
• 1 egg white
• 8 oz (1 cup) mascarpone or cream cheese (room temperature)
• 1 cup whipped cream (frozen)
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 1 T powdered sugar
• 1 tsp vanilla extract

1. In an electric mixer, whip egg white with a pinch of sugar until frothy and light. Add rest of sugar and continue to whip.

2. Add cream cheese, vanilla, powdered sugar, and whipped cream. Whip for 5 – 10 minutes on medium high speed until it reaches desired consistency.

Filling based on Jacques Pépin’s recipe, which uses sour cream instead of whipped cream and omits egg*

Tiramisu:

1. Remove cake from pan. Slice horizontally in half and separate.

2. Assemble three components as desired. Place bottom half back into pan used for baking, onto serving tray, or into presentational dish. A trifle bowl or clear glass can make a very elegant presentation. I used small glasses to make verrines: I stamped the top of the glass onto the cake, then pushed it down for each layer.

3. Spoon or slowly pour coffee syrup onto cake. Allow to absorb then spoon a bit more until it is moistened but not completely saturated. The cake can also be dipped or soaked in the syrup, but I found soaking made the cake difficult to manipulate/move to a serving dish.

3. Add a filling layer, spreading or shaping with a rubber spatula. You can also pipe the filling for nice presentation.

3. Repeat layers as many times as you see fit, ending with a filling layer. Spoon cocoa powder into a strainer and shake to completely cover the top. Garnish with chocolate shavings or a raspberry if desired.

Tiramisu will keep comfortably until the next day, but it is advisable to make only what will be consumed immediately, storing the filling, cake, and syrup separately. This is especially convenient if you do not have many people to feed; I used half this cake for 4 single-serving tiramisu, then used the other half for petits fours.

Tuna Melt

tuna melt

• 1 can tuna
• Bread, a roll, or a bagel
• 1 egg yolk
• 1 T minced shallots (or your chosen onion)
• 1 T lemon juice, more depending on taste
• 2 tsp olive oil
• 1/8 tsp or just a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar
• 1 tsp pepper
• dash salt
• parmesan cheese, parsley
• pickles, onions, muenster cheese, tomato, and/or other toppings/accoutrement

1. Set broiler to low and heat bread. In small bowl, whisk an egg yolk, lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, and herbs. Whisk or blend until it thickens slightly. It will not be super thick, but that’s okay.

2. Flip bread so that it is softly toasted on both sides. Add tuna and shallots to egg mixture and blend.

3. Remove bread from oven, then spoon tuna mixture on top. Sprinkle with extra shallots and/or parmesan cheese. Broil on high for 2 or 3 minutes, until edges of bread begins to darken. Garnish with dried parsley and serve immediately.

Croissants and Pain au chocolat

Croissants, like any bread, take a while to make, but I was surprised to learn that the actual work croissants require is minimal. They (thankfully) require no kneading — just rolling with a rolling-pin multiple times.

Due to the structure of waiting time, its good to begin the process the night before a day when you will be around the house, or the morning before you work. The first waiting time is longest and doesn’t involve you, the baker, at all. After it is mixed, the dough needs to rest for 6 – 8 hours or overnight. The second stage is similarly lengthy but punctuated rolling every 2 – 3 hours, 3 – 4 (or more) times. So, you will need to be home to make croissants, but will be able to concentrate on doing something else for pretty much the entire day.

In the end, you will have about a dozen large croissants, or many small ones. I like to make one pan with half the dough, then form and freeze the rest to have infinite fancy breakfasts.

croissant

• 2 cups flour
• 1 packet dry yeast
• 2 T sugar
• 2/3 c (almond) milk
• 1 1/4 tsp salt
• 1 egg
• butter

1. Pour milk into a medium bowl and microwave until 90-100 degrees, or for 2 – 3 minutes.

2. Add sugar and yeast; mix to combine. Add 1/2 cup flour. Mix and allow to sit for 15 minutes, when it should start to bubble.

3. Mix in remaining flour and form into loose ball. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

[[Optional Step 3.5: At this stage you can prepare the butter by allowing it to reach room temperature then slowly mixing until pliable or by slicing, laying out in a thin layer on plastic wrap, and beating it with a rolling-pin. In either case, you will form it into a medium-sized square and refrigerate to chill again. I did not do these steps as I wasn’t sure how big my dough square would be.]]

4. Remove dough from refrigerator. Roll, trying to maintain a square or rectangular shape.

5. When it is rather thin but not translucent, add cold butter. Slice and line up in continuous square about 2 – 3 inches from each edge.

6. Fold edge flaps over butter to form square. The butter should be tucked and nestled in there so the whole thing looks like a butter galette. Then, fold one edge one-third of the way over. Fold the opposite edge over that edge, so it is a rectangle of dough hugging itself.

7 . Roll gently into rectangle that is slightly smaller than your first rectangle. Fold one end one-third of the way, then fold the opposite end over it to create another hug. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 – 2 hours.

8. Repeat step 7, rolling dough, folding it over itself, then refrigerating for another hour. Repeat again once or twice, depending on how much time you’ve allotted for this process. It should be folded at least a few times, as more folds will mean more butter layers and therefore more flakiness.

9. Heat oven to 200 degrees (or the lowest possible setting) and roll dough into another rectangle. Make a single line lengthwise. Fold one half in thirds, cover with plastic wrap, and put back in refrigerator.

10. Coat a baking sheet with butter, then flour. Cut dough strip into triangles.

For croissants, roll, starting with the longest side, over itself, leaving the final tip on the bottom. Place on baking sheet straight or curve the ends together to create a crescent shape.

For pain au chocolat, position the triangle with the longest side near you. Put a vertical stripe of chocolate near each side closest to you, essentially making two mini triangles. Fold both sides over into themselves and place on pan seam side down.

11. Turn off oven. Brush croissants with water and put in oven for 1 – 1 1/2 hours. Alternatively, use a proofing box, set or otherwise regulated to maintain 70 – 80 degrees.

12. Remove from oven after about an hour. Croissants should be nearly double in size. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Brush croissants with beaten egg. If you are making pain au chocolat, sprinkle with sugar. Set aside for 15 minutes.

13. Bake for 20 minutes, or more if you prefer them darker.  Freeze remaining dough.

Butternut Squash Burgers (and Fries)

burger

 

Butternut Squash Burger
• 1/2 butternut squash (about 1 1/2 – 2 cups)
• 1/2 can or 1/2 cup black beans
• 3 T white onion, diced
• 1/4 cup fine bread crumbs
• 1 T dried chives
• 1 tsp each: thyme, garlic, sage, chili powder, pepper

1. Peel butternut squash. For these burgers, I just used the top half of a butternut squash and ended up with 7 medium-sized burgers, but you can use more or less. Cut squash into cubes and steam (I use a steamer basket) until soft.

2. In a wide, flat bowl, mash cubes with fork. Add onions and spices, then bread crumbs and continue to mash. Add black beans and lightly stir.

3. Roll into ball and flatten.

4. Sauté in vegetable oil over medium high heat. Burgers are fragile, so allow to sit for a while before flipping, checking, or manipulating. Resist the urge to constantly flip! They are finished when quite dark on both sides.

5. Serve on their own (they are delicious and don’t need dressing up) or as a meat substitute on a bun with onion, ketchup, lettuce, tomato, pickles, other sauces… anything you like :)

French Fries

• 2 – 4 potatoes
• 1/2 cup flour
• 2 T chili powder
• 1 T pepper
• 1 T mixture of thyme, garlic, and fine sea salt
• water and oil

1. Slice edge of potato lengthwise to create a rectangle with round ends. Cut off ends. Slice lengthwise to create about 5 slices. Flip and repeat to make long, thin, squared fries. Slice the ends and edges too.

2. Immerse completely in warm water. Soak for a half hour.

3. Drain and rinse. Dry with kitchen towel, then squeeze with paper towel for complete dryness.

4. Mix flour with spices (whichever spices you like and however much you like) in a gallon-sized storage bag. Add fries, zip closed, and mix to coat completely.

5. Roast at 450 degrees for half hour.

6. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Fill a pot or saucepan with a couple inches of vegetable oil and heat over medium high.

7. When water sprinkled into the oil sizzles, it is hot enough. Add potatoes and fry for 5 – 10 minutes until crisp.

8. Season with pepper, sea salt, and spices.

Poppyseed Roll

The dough in this recipe can also be used for virtually any other filling. It is a vaguely sweet, heavy, and dry dough that pairs nicely with bright tasting fruit or a heavier texture like chocolate or nuts. My family makes poppyseed rolls each Christmas, but when Grandma was around she would make walnut rolls as well.

We tend to half the recipe, which makes anywhere from 5 – 10 rolls depending on size. It is more than enough, but the full recipe is included [in brackets] for posterity. If using the full recipe, it is a good idea to use multiple fillings then freeze the remaining (whole) rolls.

poppyseed

• 1 packet or cake of yeast [2 cakes]
• 1/4 cup warm water [1/2c]
• 4 cups flour [8]
• 1 egg and 2 1/2 yolks (crack 1 yolk into liquid measuring cup, mix, and half)[2 whole, 5 yolks]
• 1/4 cup butter [1/2c]
• 1/4 cup shortening [1/2c oleo]
• under 1/2 cup sugar [3/4c]
• 1/2 pint (8 oz, according the internet) sour cream [1 pint]
• 2 tsp vanilla
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 2 – 3 standard or 1 large can of poppyseed filling

1. Pour warm water into liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle yeast on top. Set aside for 10 minutes.

2. In bowl of electric mixer, whip eggs a few minutes, then add sugar and continue to whip until slightly frothy. Then add butter, whip for a few minutes, then sour cream, yeast mixture, salt, and vanilla. After a moment, add flour and stop as soon as combined.

3. Knead for about 15 minutes. Make a ball, then elongate into a log. With a knife, cut dough into softball-sized portions for rolls that will be about a foot long. You can make larger, smaller, or even mini rolls, so cut according to what you will be making.

4. Cover with towel and allow to rise for 2 – 3 hours.

5. Roll with rolling pin and spread filling (as thick as you’d like-more is more delicious, but as I didn’t have enough the pictured roll has about 1 cm filling) from end to end. It is not necessary to leave space for wrapping as it will be cooked with the fold on the bottom.

6. Roll tightly and cover with towel. Rise 2 – 3 more hours.

7. Coat a heavy baking sheet completely with butter, rubbing with wax paper or just holding the stick and fully covering the pan. Sprinkle flour, then hit and shake the pan to coat completely. Place rolls onto baking sheet and brush with egg wash. Sprinkle sugar on top and allow to set for 10 minutes.

8. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes at 350 degrees, until golden brown. Allow to cool before eating.

Walnut Filling
• 1 tsp vanilla [2]
• 3/4 cup heavy cream [1 1/2c]
• 1 T crushed walnuts [2]
• under a half cup brown sugar [3/4c]

1. Combine ingredients and use instead of poppyseed filling.

Choux Pastry

Choux pastry is a versatile and light dough that can be used for spectacular desserts and savory treats. Considering how special and *fancy* puffs are when baked, they actually are rather straightforward to make. If you’ve made choux once, subsequent attempts will seem incredibly simple. I like Jacques Pépin’s recipe and directions because the ingredients are minimal/elemental and the long wait times allow you to go about your day while making something magnificent.

I use most of the batter for sweet cream puffs, reserving a half or third for savory cheese gougères.

choux

Choux pastry
• 1 cup water
• 4 T butter
• 1 cup flour
• 4 eggs
• 1/4 tsp salt

1. Boil water, pieces of butter, and salt in saucepan.

2. When butter is melted, remove from heat and add all flour.

3. Quickly mix with wooden spoon until dough begins to form a ball.

4. Put pan over low heat and ‘dry’ for 1 to 2 minutes, mixing occasionally. Try to collect all dough into a single ball to avoid dry bits.

5. Transfer to a slightly larger bowl than would seem necessary and let cool at least 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each. The dough will seem to resist coming together, with large pieces sloshing about in the egg (so the larger bowl should be helpful), but keep mixing. It is finished when the dough is thick and creamy.

6. Coat a heavy baking sheet completely with butter, rubbing with wax paper or just holding the stick and fully covering the pan. Sprinkle flour, then hit and shake the pan to coat completely.

8. For Cream Puffs, put dough into pastry bag with large round tip and pipe golf ball sized puffs.
For Éclairs, drag the pastry bag to make a puff that is about 3 inches long and oval.
For Gougères, add some shredded cheese (Gruyére, Cheddar, Parmesan, etc) and/or herbs to dough. More makes for flat puffs, which will look like boring, normal biscuits. Just using a tablespoon or two will allow for savory flavor while preserving the fun puffiness.

9. Brush with beaten egg, smoothing out tips and obvious imperfections as you go. For a design, drag a fork across the top. Allow to dry for at least 20 minutes.

10. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes, until puffed and golden. When finished, turn off heat and open oven door halfway, letting the puffs cool slowly and dry for a half hour (inside oven).

Filling

Make Custard Cream Filling:
• 2 cups (vanilla almond) milk
• 2 beaten eggs
• 2/3 c sugar
• 1/2 c flour
• pinch salt
• 1 tsp vanilla
• 1 T butter

1. Warm milk in saucepan over medium low heat.

2. Mix flour, sugar, and salt in bowl. Add eggs and combine, beating well.

3. Slowly add flour-egg mixture to milk, stirring with whisk.

4. It will thicken in a few minutes, but if it does not, add more flour until desired thickness is reached.

5. Add vanilla, continuing to stir.

To fill puff pastry, stab side of puff with pastry tip and squeeze until puff feels full.

Éclairs can be filled the same way depending on your tool, but it is efficient to make a slit lengthwise along the side of the éclair and fill.

Gougères are great on their own or can be filled with a soft cheese and/or other vegetables. Goat cheese with herbs and minced mushrooms and olives is quite good.

Ganache
• 1/2 cup or 4 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate
• 1/2 cup heavy cream or 1/4 cup regular milk
• 1 T dark rum or Kahlua

1. If you don’t have one (like me), make a bain-marie using two pans of approximately the same circumference. Fill the first with water and boil.

2. Turn heat down to high to preserve a delicate/light boil and place pieces of chocolate in second pan. Put second pan on top of water pan and allow chocolate to melt, mixing frequently with rubber spatula. Alternatively/rationally, melt chocolate in microwave.

3. Pour cream and rum into bowl, then pour melted chocolate into mixture. Whisk until it is creamy. It will be slightly thinner than seems necessary but if it is too watery/thin, melt and add more chocolate. It should be thick enough to coat a cream puff without being translucent, but thin enough to pour.

Pour over cream puffs or éclairs.
For gougères, sprinkle grated cheese and herbs on top instead of ganache.

Coquilles St Jacques à la Provençale

coquilles

This is a very elegant dish and can be accompanied by a variety of vegetables. The first time I used tomato instead of mushroom, but I think it would be delicious with both, so both are included in the recipe. I also used cheese instead of the cream mixture which was more dry, and as it was gruyére it totally overwhelmed the delicate scallops. The reduction is just as creamy, more subtle, and well worth the effort. Plus, wine!

I made the above picture for New Years Eve, served with green beans and a mixture of brown rice, lentils, and onion. The green bean recipe is also included below.

• 5 scallops
• 5-10 mushrooms, diced
• 1 small yellow onion or 2 shallots, diced
• 1 small tomato, diced
• 1 T mixture of parsley, thyme, sage, and tarragon
• 1/4 tsp minced garlic
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 cup dry white wine
• 1/2 c water
• 1/4 c (almond) milk or cream
• 3 T butter
• 1 – 2 T flour

1. Heat mushrooms and half of onions in butter and garlic. Allow to heat for about 10 minutes, then add thyme, salt & pepper, and sage. Cook for 10 more minutes then pour into a gratin pan or baking/pie dish.

2. In the same pan, reduce white wine, water, bay leaf, and rest of onions.

3. Slice scallops-each should create 2 – 3 thin slices. Add to reduction and cook for a few minutes over medium heat.

4. Dice and layer tomato over mushroom and onion mixture. Follow with scallops, arranged in single layer with slight overlap.

5. Remove reduction from pan, pouring into bowl. In same pan, make a roux by combining 2 T butter and 2 T flour over medium heat.

6. When roux is thickened and smooth, add reduction along with milk and cream. Allow to cook over medium heat for a few minutes until thickened. Mix frequently with whisk.

7. Pour liquid over scallops and broil (high) until brown and bubbly. Garnish with fresh herbs, like parsley or thyme.

Green Beans
1 – 2 cups Green beans
2 T Butter
1 T Pure honey
1 T Crushed walnuts

1. Melt 1 T butter over medium heat.

2. Slice tips off fresh green beans and add to pan, mixing to coat with butter.

3. Allow to cook for a few minutes, then drizzle honey on beans, add remaining butter, and stir to coat.

4. Add walnuts and allow to cook until beans are just beginning to be marked by pan and the walnuts are slightly softened.

5. Never ever ever eat canned green beans again

French Onion Soup

onion soup

The time to make onion soup is best dictated by one’s pantry. As the only ‘fresh’ ingredients are cheese and onion, the biggest variable is bread. Rather than making a free choice in favor of soup, I let a stale leftover baguette decide- throw it out, make croutons, or make French onion soup.

I don’t actually measure anything in this recipe…The quantity of each ingredient can and should be regulated according to taste, with the amount of onion vs liquid the most important consideration. The onions will also cook down so you should add more than you think is necessary. Listed quantities come from Julia Child’s recipe, with the flour omitted.

•  5 cups sliced yellow onion
•  at least 3T butter (as much as you’d like)
•  1 tsp sugar
•  1/2 c dry white wine
•  2 quarts beef or vegetable stock
•  1 tsp salt and pepper
•  half a baguette
•  1 c Swiss or Gruyère + muenster cheese

1. Coat cast iron skillet with 1T butter. Add onions and mix around to coat onion in butter. Cover, and allow to cook untouched 15 minutes over medium heat. Check every 15-20 minutes for an hour or more, depending on heat settings. Midway through cooking, fully turn all onions, then sprinkle with sugar and add 2 T butter. Allow to continue to brown, without stirring them. Onions do not want to be your friend, and do not need to dance all the time-best to leave them alone as much as possible. Some crust on the pan (and onions!) is good, but not necessary.

2. In separate pot, heat beef (or vegetable) stock with a touch of dry white wine (you can use red wine instead-its just important that its dry else the fruitiness can be a bit obvious) and pepper.

3. With onions still cooking, deglaze pan with white wine straight from the bottle. Add stock, some pepper, then adjust to taste. The biggest caution here is to watch your wine-since I just pour some from the bottle I’ve found its very easy to end up with onions in wine-flavored water… If that happens, just allow to reduce much longer.s

4. Slice bread and toast under broiler. I use 1 or 2 for each ramekin, but more layers makes for a kind of bread pudding that is exceptionally delicious, so toast however much you like.

5. Ladle soup into ramekins. Cover with one or two slices of toast, darker side down. To layer, allow each slice to soak up liquid before placing another. Sprinkle swiss/gruyere on top, and cover with a slice of muenster cheese. Muenster melts quickly and evenly, making for an awesome gooey surface, and doesn’t have a strong flavor that will overpower your chosen cheese. If you just want to use one cheese for your soup, it should be muenster.

6. Serve with extra piece of bread. Extra ramekins can be saved for a few days, and make a fantastic breakfast.

Enchiladas

enchiladas

Enchilada Sauce
4 dried chili peppers, crushed or 2 fresh chili peppers, sliced
3 T – 1 mini can tomato paste or a few crushed/diced tomatoes
1 T minced or diced onion
2 T olive oil
1 T vegetable stock
1 – 4 cups water
1 T Adobo seasoning
1 T garlic powder or 1 medium garlic clove, minced with plane grater
1 tsp each cayenne pepper, cumin, cilantro
1/2 tsp each oregano, salt

1. Over medium low heat in small saucepan, heat chili peppers in olive oil. Stir occasionally, and if using fresh chili peppers, mash a bit as they soften. Add onion and allow to heat for 5 – 10  minutes.

2. Add vegetable stock, tomatoes or tomato paste, 1 cup water, and seasonings. Continue to heat and stir for 10 – 15 minutes. If pressed for time, heat vegetables for enchilada filling in separate sauté pan.

3. Add more water until desired thickness is reached. Use for enchiladas and store extra in refrigerator for enhancing rice, tacos, or salsa.

Filling
1 can or cup White Beans, lightly mashed
1 1/2 cup Grated Cheddar Cheese
1 Green Pepper
1 small yellow Onion
1 – 2 cups Enchilada Sauce
Rice (optional)

Preparation:

1. Lightly coat square casserole dish with sauce. Add filling to tortilla (technically, it is good to use corn tortillas but I find flour tortillas easier to manipulate) in stripe down the center, and fold over both sides. Put fold-side-down in pan. Line up as many enchiladas in a row (5 or 6) until pan is full.

2. Pour sauce over enchiladas and sprinkle extra cheese on top.

3. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or 400 degrees for 1/2 hour. You can also soften peppers and onion in a sauté pan beforehand and reduce cooktime significantly-that way you will only have to wait for cheese to melt.

4. Garnish with Parsley

Rice
1 c Brown Rice
1 packet Sazon Goya
1/2 c Lentils
1/2 c Onion

1. Cook rice and lentils in rice cooker.

2. After 10 minutes, add diced onion and Sazon Goya. Mix.

3. Serve with enchiladas. If using rice for enchilada filling, start rice cooker before making the enchilada sauce.

Fresh Tortilla Chips
5 – 10 corn tortillas
2 – 3 T vegetable oil
sea salt

1. Heat oil in pan with small surface area over medium heat. You will need enough to submerge a tortilla, about 1 cm.

2. Cut tortillas in half. Stack both halves on top of one another and cut into triangles.

3. When oil is hot, submerge tortillas and allow to harden. If using very shallow oil, flip at least once. Remove with tongs and allow to dry on paper towel or cooling rack.

4. Sprinkle with sea salt and/or other spices and serve.

Poached Tilapia with Beurre Blanc

Tilapia

This recipe is based on Jacques Pépin’s Poached Trout in Vegetable Broth (video here). While there are lots of ingredients and while I list lots of steps it doesn’t take much longer than his presentation. If you don’t make sauce you could easily create this and eat within 20 minutes. Also, I imagine this basic method could make any other type of fish super flavorful and delicate.

The slow, weird, complicated part is the Beurre Blanc, a sauce that has eluded me for some time. I’m not sure if it worked this time because I used Amish butter or if it was due to trial and error… I’m not sure but I do know that even my failed, ultra-melted attempts were still absolutely delicious, so even practice is worthwhile.

This time, the sauce was appropriately creamy, but I didn’t get a good capture because I was too busy eating to care about staging…

Fish
• Tilapia or any fish that wants to be poached
• 1 small white onion, potatoes (as many as you will be serving), a few mushrooms, 1 stalk celery, 1 carrot
• 2 – 3 cups water
• 1 tsp olive oil, butter, or homemade vegetable stock
• 1 large bay leaf
• fresh & dried thyme
• sage
• oregano
• 1/2 – 1 tsp peppercorns
• fine sea salt
• lemon juice and zest
• If serving with roasted vegetables, preheat oven to 425 degrees

1. Squeeze lemon juice onto fish and sprinkle with dried oregano, a dash of sea salt, and pepper.

2. Add enough water to a sauté pan so that the fish will be partially immersed. Boil water, white wine, sliced onion, sliced carrot & celery, small potatoes cut in half or regular potatoes cut into edible pieces, bay leaf, thyme, sage, and a bit of lemon peel. Crush and add peppercorns. Add olive oil or butter if you wish–I went with an ice cube of vegetable stock.

3. Reduce heat to medium, then rest fish upon vegetables and cover pan.

4. Check from time to time: skinned fish will exhibit doneness more obviously than fish with skin. Either way, it should take about 10 minutes.

5. Remove fish from pan and place on a plate with a bowl on top while you make the sauce and roast the potatoes.

6. Remove potatoes from liquid and sprinkle with olive oil and sea salt. Spread out on baking sheet along with asparagus. Roast while making the beurre blanc, about 20 minutes.

Beurre Blanc
• 1/2 c fish stock
• 1/4 c white wine
• 2 T vinegar (white allows it to be blanc- I used red so it looked more like gravy)
• 1 T minced shallots
• 1/2 c – 1 c butter

1. The liquid from the poached fish will serve as the base for this sauce, so strain out the vegetables. Add about 1/2 c liquid back to the pan.

2. Add white wine and boil until the liquid is reduced by about half.

3. Reduce heat to medium and add vinegar, shallots, and 2 T butter.

4. Reduce heat to low and add butter 1 T at a time, whisking continuously until each is absorbed by the liquid. It is important that the butter is cold and that there is continuous movement with a whisk as it can melt very easily, making for a deflated, watery sauce.

5. Remove from heat completely and add the last few pieces of butter, continuing to stir. The final result should be creamy and heavenly.. Pour liberally over both fish and asparagus.

**Anti-waste tip: Save any remaining fish stock to enhance dinner the next day.. I used it for fish tacos, but it would make a very hearty soup, vegetable cooking liquid – – anything, really. Its also useful to save the vegetables for a small batch of vegetable or fish stock, and/or to season & eat as a simple side dish.**

Cranberry Muffins

muffins

This recipe is from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. It includes a base muffin recipe, with instructions for different fillings like berries, bananas, cheese, poppyseed, or oats. I’ve included cranberry, blueberry, and oat because those are the versions I’ve made so far. If you’d like the quantities for the others, leave a comment!

Muffins

• 1 3/4 c flour
• 1/3 c sugar
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 1 egg
• 3/4 c milk
• 1/4 c vegetable oil
• berries, oats, fruit, herbs, cheese, or other filling/enhancement

1. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make well in center.

2. In another bowl, beat egg and combine with milk and oil.

3. Add liquid mixture to well in flour, stirring until just moistened.

4. For cranberry muffins, chop 1 cup cranberries in half and add additional sugar. As they are so tart, it is best not to add extra berries. For blueberry muffins, add 1 cup whole berries, with however many extra you’d like. For oatmeal, reduce flour to 1 1/3c and add 3/4c oats.

5. Spoon into muffin cups/tray. Cover with Streusel Topping, which is made by cutting butter into dry ingredients:
• 3 T flour
• 3 T brown sugar
• 2 T butter
• 1/4 tsp cinnamon

6. Bake at 400 degrees for 18 – 20 minutes or longer, depending on how quickly the Streusel becomes golden.